Yoga is teaching me how long it really takes to recover from jet lag, once past the superficial effects of interrupted sleep and concentration issues. The first few days are always killers, especially when trying to overcome time zone differences of 8 hours or more.
I used to think I could get back to normal within a week, after a long trip to Europe (8–9 time zones’ difference). Thanks to mind-body insights from a regular yoga practice, I now realize it can take at least 2 weeks to fully recover. This insight is based on balancing, or lack thereof, as a measure of recovery.
On most days standing poses, like “airplane pose” or the tree pose shown here, are not especially challenging for me. I’m one of those lucky people with good balance and enough core strength to hold most balance poses with integrity — and even the occasional hint of grace.
That said, what my most recent travel experience suggests is that it takes 2–3 weeks to fully recover from jet lag — to get back to the point where I can hold a balance pose without wavering or shaking (or falling down).
After several days back, I find myself falling out of a normally simple balance pose. It has taken 2 weeks to recapture the ability to ground myself on the 4 corners of each foot, to be mindful of each corner and how it grips the mat (or not).
Somehow jet lag breaks the mind-body linkage, the energy flow between feet and brain, so my balance wavers noticeably as a result. This wavering serves as a signal that all is not quite well. It’s a signal to me and an attentive teacher.
Thankfully, I’m now past the worst of the jet lag, have recovered my balance — and have received a gracious comment from my teacher on how nice it is to see my regained sense of balance.
Jet lag, be gone!